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Phuket Architecture and the Evolution of Luxury Design

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Thai architecture Phuket hillside Villa Minh

Before Phuket, Thailand earned its reputation as a world-class beach holiday destination, for centuries it called to fortune-seekers, workers and traders from Asia, Arabia and Europe. This interesting convergence of cultures is reflected in the island’s architecture. We take a look at how luxury villa design has evolved in Phuket over the last 150 years or so.

SINO-COLONIAL ELEGANCE

Baan Chinpracha Historic Mansion in Phuket by Opal HoPHUKET TOWN OLD GOVERNOR’S RESIDENCE

Back in Phuket’s booming tin-mining days in the late 1800s to early 1900s, the island’s emerging wealthy class built luxury mansions of Sino-Colonial design, in a fashion that reflected the tastes of the tin-mine barons of the time, who were largely descendants of Hokkien Chinese immigrants with family ties stretching from Phuket to Penang, Malacca and Singapore.

A handful of these mansions still stand today in Phuket Town, including the old governor’s residence, now home to the Blue Elephant restaurant (pictured above), and next door Baan Chinpracha mansion (below), which is now part family home, part museum.

Baan Chinpracha Historic Thai Architecture by Jinjoo ShinINSIDE BAAN CHINPRACHA MANSION

European influences are seen in the homes’ elaborate porticos (arched windows and doorways), neo-classical pillars and Italian marble floor tiles with intricate designs. Thick walls and inner courtyards helped protect the mansions’ residents from the sweltering heat, and air circulated through rows of elegantly arched louvered windows. 

These luxury villas of the past were largely found in the island’s interior near Phuket’s commercial centres – all the fabulous beaches lining its coast were not considered desirable places to live for anyone but fisher-folk. But once travellers discovered the beaches and tourism replaced tin mining as the economic driving force in the 1980s, visions of luxury living shifted to the coastlines.

QUINTESSENTIALLY THAI

Amanpuri PhuketAMANPURI PHUKET (IMAGE FROM TRIPADVISOR)

In 1988, a coconut plantation on a headland near Surin Beach became home to the Amanpuri, an exclusive resort built to a level of luxury unheard of at the time on Phuket. Designed by architect Edward Tuttle as a collection of elegant pavilions spilling over the hillside, it was a ground-breaking style that came about after his extensive travels around Thailand.

Historic city of Ayutthaya by UNESCOCITY OF AYUTTHAYA (IMAGE BY UNESCO)

His main inspiration was the ancient Ayutthaya architecture of central Thailand (above),

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Seminyak’s Modern Classic Black & White Villa

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Issi Seminyak Villa Black and White Bedroom

On their home décor website, style authority ELLE has a slideshow of black and white interiors from Manhattan to Brazil, saying “black and white rooms are guaranteed to never go out of style.” The modern kitchens, quaint bathrooms, European farmhouses and Santa Monica celebrity cribs are all “ridiculously fab.” But something is missing.

ELLE’s would-be-perfect presentation of contrasting shiny blacks and beautifully textured whites is a timely one. The persisting colour combo is experiencing a peak in popularity, in case you hadn’t noticed.

Black-and-white is in right now for everything regal; Khloe Kardashian’s living room, runways, red carpets, retail.

 

Black and white was big at Fashion Week in Sydney. Photo by VOGUE PARIS.Black and white was big at Fashion Week in Sydney. Photo by VOGUE PARIS.

 

It dominated the star-studded Cannes Film Fest. Also by VOGUE PARIS.It dominated the star-studded Cannes Film Fest. Also by VOGUE PARIS.

 

Black and white outfit by The Tailor & his LoverIt’s hot at boutique clothing shops in Bali.
GET THE LOOK: The Tailor & his Lover, Jl. Batubelig No. 1, Seminyak.

Back to ELLE’s 30 Black and White Décor Ideas. What’s missing?

VILLA ISSi

Issi Seminyak Villa Black and White BedroomBlack and white interiors are sophisticated and timeless on tropical islands, too.

Many of the private pool villas across Southeast Asia are cause for design envy the world over, and this Seminyak villa, Villa ISSi, well its master bedroom suite should be on ELLE’s list of black and white designer rooms.

 Issi Seminyak Villa Black and white Bali bathroomSurely this sleek ensuite makes the grade. Again, Villa ISSi.

Ensuites at Bali’s designer villas are the precedent for open-air bathrooms throughout the tropics and anyone can see why.

Villa Issi - Black and white interior design BaliIn Villa ISSi’s retro-styled lounge, the villa’s concept is spelled out.

The colour motif is strong throughout all four of the spacious bedrooms and the living areas, with only minimal colour accents and patterns in the soft furnishing.

Villa ISSi is art. Designed by internationally acclaimed architect Budi Pradono from Indonesia,

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Phuket it is. Where to exactly?

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Phuket beaches

Well, I thought I’d leave that up to you. In terms of “which beach is best” you couldn’t say, and the same is true of the villas. All of the rentals with Elite Havens are to the max. Fully staffed, swimming pools, massages on order, if you catch my drift. A real treat for everyone, Carol and the girls will go bananas.

Malaiwana Estate is spotless, right above Nai Thon Beach, everything we need right there, resort amenities, grocery service and personal chefs. Kata Beach is another good one for kids, and over there Villa Amanzi is way cool. Fitness centre and tennis just next door. More in the heart of the action are the villas around Surin Beach and Kamala Beach. Surfing for Greg. Shopping for Marsha. Some good spots to boogie. Or we can veg out on Phuket’s east coast and go boating. Our boys sure are looking forward to snorkelling trips with Peter and Bobby. That Villa Sawarin in Cape Yamu is more than spacious enough for all of us.

Remember Phuket is a relatively small island, so all these villas along the coast are close enough to the Phuket airport, sightseeing and the links. Any questions, you ought to contact the Villa Specialists at Elite Havens, and they’ll sort you out.

Looking forward to it, Mike!

Phuket beach villas map

Credits
Elite Havens PHUKET BEACH VILLAS
Amazing Thailand TOURISM AUTHORITY OF THAILAND
Trip Advisor PHUKET ACTIVITIES
Conde Nast Traveller PHUKET BEACH GUIDE

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Top Tubs at Canggu Villas

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Bali has a secret. Forget the spectacular scenery, vivid sunsets, and post-card perfect beaches the travel guides tell you about. Behind the doors of the island’s luxury retreats lie the most beautiful spots to have a soak. Bathrooms in Bali are an experience in their own right: open air showers, smooth pebbles under foot, tubs that stand in the shade of tropical trees. Lather up and lounge back in the best Canggu has to offer.

 

Have an American Beauty moment, Bali style, immersed in frangipani petals in the stone bath of VILLA BENDEGA RATO’S garden suite. The tub stands in the koi pond in the shade of a mango tree, so you can soak up the rays or lounge under the stars as you bathe.

Fancy a soak with a view? The ensuite in the master bedroom at next door VILLA BENDEGA NUI faces out on to Canggu’s surrounding fields, so you can cool down under the rainforest shower while gazing across verdant rice paddies.

 

Nothing says Bali luxe like an al fresco shower under the serene gaze of a stone buddha. The Master shower in elegant VILLA BELONG DUA is tucked in a green walled garden – think Secret Garden meets Eat, Pray, Love. The villa gets its name from the traditional belong – stone basins for sluicing yourself down.

 

Balinese jungle meets high design chic at VILLA HANSA, with its rustic floorboards and smooth stone surfaces. In the Gladak suite, you’ll bathe in a sleek, modernist tub surrounded by long grass and palms.

 

From the verdant manicured lawn surrounding the deep stone tub, you could be forgiven for thinking you’re at an English country pile. Thankfully, SIMONA OASIS is warm enough all year round to make an outdoor soak in the shelter of the bathroom’s stone porch the perfect antidote to a day of discovering temples or catching waves.

 

Possibly the most Instagram-able shower experience in Bali is the master ensuite in VILLA LEVI. It’s an aesthetically pleasing combo of modernist design – all clean lines and sunlight – clipped greenery and the muted hues of local stone and aged decking. You won’t find a more stylish bathroom this side of Copenhagen.

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Literary Meets Luxury

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Ten years on since its initial start date, the 2017 Fairway Galle Literary Festival (FGLF) is back – bigger and better. The Literary Festival looks to showcase participants who inspire and are inspired. Taking place from January 11 – 15 2017, the 2017 FGLF features 110 events including their extremely popular MAS Children’s Programme. 

A variety of discussions, debates, literary awards, panels, tea and poetry readings, cookery demonstrations, gourmet events, performances and live music events for festival goers to enjoy. FGLF introduces for the first time, a complimentary Sinhala programming to highlight the diversity of the Sinhala Literary Arts through discussions, poetry readings, short films and writings in translations amongst others. For the little ones, an Outreach Children’s Programme in Jaffna on the 17th & 18th January 2017 with the aim to develop the literary arts in English in the North and bring the world to the children of Jaffna through some wonderful international children’s authors.

For those looking to be a part of the 2017 FGLF and other events in Galle Fort, there are two villas which should be on your radar. Choice accommodation.

Located right within the atmospheric Galle Fort (where the Literary Festival takes place), Ambassador’s House offers more than just a place to sleep and rest. The spacious historic house has five ensuite bedrooms and is fabulous for families and groups. Rich with illustrious past, Ambassador’s House is gloriously decadent and nostalgic – the luxury villa is bursting with Dutch colonial style, soaring ceilings, arched doorways, double-collonaded verandahs.

No.39 Galle Fort is also located within the walls of Galle Fort. The three-bedroom villa is stately yet cosy, nostalgic yet current. Once you step inside the villa, you will notice that the charm of the past blends beautifully with 21st-century comforts. Lavishly dressed beds and cushioned daybeds, mezzanine TV lounge and iPod dock delightfully complement this heritage home’s wide archway in the living room, a mix of antique and custom-made furniture and the soaring vaulted ceilings.

Staying so close to the heart of the action gives you the advantage to escape the hottest part of the day to relax in your breezy garden, take a quick cooling shower in between literary programmes and invite your new friends home for a cup of freshly-brewed Sri Lankan tea – prepared by your private butler.

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